Officially known as Waialea Bay, the local name for this area, Beach 69, comes from the number on the telephone pole that indicates the turnoff for the parking area. Though the actual turnoff is between phone pole numbers 69 and 70. It’s only a short 23-mile drive north from Kailua-Kona on the Kohala Coast.
The telephone pole number will be the only official reference that you see that hints at the beach’s local moniker. Waialea Bay will be the name to look for on maps, signage, and other official publications. However, if you ask locals about Beach 69, they will know what you are talking about.
Finding Beach 69 or Waialea Bay is not difficult, though. Once you arrive, you will wonder why you waited so long to get to this quiet, shady spot for snorkeling.
At the beach, you won’t find a large expanse of sun-scorched pure white sand. Along Waialea Bay, trees grow in the sand, almost up to the water. Shady sands mean that most sunbathers stay away. Those who like to cool off under the trees after a dip in the warm bay waters will appreciate the tree coverage. Plus, with the lighter crowds compared to other area beaches and ample shade, you’ll always find a cool spot to relax.
This bay is in the southern portion of the larger Kawaihae Bay. The waters of Waialea Bay are a part of a partially protected area that has some of the best marine life in the entire Kawaihae Bay. Abundant marine life draws many scuba divers and snorkelers to this beach. Visitors even claim this beach is the best for snorkeling in the area.
The best time to visit this beach is during the summer. At this time, the beach is at its maximum and the waters are calmest. During the winter, tides draw the sand from the beach and increase the surf height. No lifeguards monitor the bay at any time of the year. So, whenever you swim, snorkel, or dive, do it cautiously and with others.
Marine life is the biggest reason that many people visit Waialea Bay. On the beach or underwater, you will likely see many sea turtles. During the winter, humpback whales and dolphins regularly appear offshore. Bring your binoculars to see these magnificent mammals.
For snorkeling or diving, the beach gradually slopes down in the water to its greatest depth of 30 feet just outside the bay. Most depths range from 10 to 30 feet. Protect your feet with water shoes or other coverings because the sandy water bottom has a few rocks interspersed throughout. For the best snorkeling, head toward the south part of Waialea Bay. Fish and corals abound in this area. You will also find great snorkeling spots near the rocky parts at the north of the bay.
This beach may not have lifeguards, but it does include restrooms and outdoor showers. An attendant takes fees for entry and parking from non-residents.
Waialea Bay remains one of the lesser-known beaches. However, since it does not have a big reputation with tourists, it is not as crowded as other sites along the Kohala Coast. Many visitors report finding parking in the lot easily, even later in the day, when other beaches would have their parking spots filled.
Don’t let the local term for Waialea Bay keep you away. This beach is great for seeing marine life throughout the year or snorkeling during the warmer months. Check out this quieter side to the Kohala Coast and add a trip to Beach 69 to your list of must-see beaches.
-Drive slowly along the road to the parking area. It is very rough.
-Non-residents must pay entrance and parking fees.
-Winter tides erode the beach, but this time of year is great for humpback whale spotting.
-There is no lifeguard at this beach. Use extra caution while in the water.
-The area is part of a marine life conservation district so fishing, feeding animals, or taking anything from the water or beach are all prohibited.